Cheboygan County Woman Accused of Embezzling Money from Trust

"I don’t want to be taped," the defendant Donna Merchant said.

The Cheboygan County woman was charged Tuesday with embezzling money from a living trust after a woman passed away.

Donna Merchant was charged with one count of embezzlement of $100,000 or more after a group that was supposed to receive money from the trust pointed out something fishy.

9 & 10’s Blayke Roznowski and photojournalist Noah Jurik have the details on what led to the arrest.

"The trust appears to have been started, as far as the last will and testament was put into place, and there was various folks who were to receive benefits or funds from the account. Donna did start doing that and then things went a little sideways from there," Michigan State Police Det./Sgt. Rich Rule said. 

Investigators say the McLaren Foundation of Northern Michigan filed a complaint in January because roughly half of the $400,000 they were supposed to receive from the Blanche M. Many Trust after her death in 2011 was never given to them.

They say Donna Merchant was named as a trustee for Many after Many used her services at the Don Woiderski Tax Account Services.

"It appears that a different account was set up and the money transferred from an account that Blanche Many had in Cheboygan," Det./Sgt. Rule said. "Upon moving the money to that account, checks were then being written and that the checks were no longer written in the name of the family trust, but they were in the name of Donna Merchant." 

Court documents say this added up to roughly $235,000.

Investigators are concerned there could be more victims.

"With a significant amount of money and, again, her access and her knowledge of the tax process and banking process, I felt that there’s a concern that it’s possible she could be involved in other trust accounts," Det./Sgt. Rule said.

Merchant will be back in court next week.

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